An Ally of Foxes

When I was 18, I began my lifelong study of herbs. I started with goldenseal. My interest in this bitter herb led me on a magical journey that continues to this day...

I was living in Cincinnati, in the Ohio River Valley. In my beginning herbal apprenticeship, someone told me about a place I could buy goldenseal and ginseng gathered locally from the Kentucky hills.

I arrived that morning by bus in the heart of downtown, at Fountain Square, a beautiful European style plaza with a huge fountain that had in the center a goddess figure with outstretched arms. It was a gift at the turn of the previous century from the French who know a thing or two about goddesses.

The address I was seeking was directly off the square. I got my bearings, and came to a closed roll-up door--tucked in between large old highrise office buildings. Some kind of warehouse. I knocked at the door. The roll-up was raised. And my breath was taken away, not by goldenseal. There on the concrete floor of the warehouse, were piled 4 feet high, in neat stacks, HUNDREDS of fox pelts.

Something happened to me in that moment of shock and recognition that only recently have I begun to understand. I became an ally of foxes. I left with my goldenseal, and in the company of fox spirits. They befriended me that day.

=Claudia Fox=